How to Critique Your Failures and Make Them Successes

by Ali Brown
It’s often said that hindsight is 20/20, but it can turn into foresight when we start to learn from our mistakes and apply our new knowledge to future situations. So, how do you look at your failures and turn something negative into a positive? Let’s take a look…

Do a “post-mortem” examination

When something goes terribly wrong, it’s in our nature to analyze it and play the “what if” game, where we play different scenarios out in our mind about what we could have done differently to change the outcome. Some say this exercise is useless, but in a business context, doing a post-mortem can actually be a healthy and productive way to handle the situation.

The key is to go beyond what you’ve done wrong as part of your post-mortem. Also examine what you’ve done right. Make a list of the pluses and minuses so you recognize your strengths and what you should repeat—and what needs improvement, or needs to be thrown out entirely.

Avoid complacency

Oftentimes when something goes wrong, we write it off as something that was meant to be. But in business, if you’ve lost a client or some mistake has happened, you can often figure out why. Let’s say you lose a client. Why could this have happened? Maybe your pricing isn’t competitive enough. Maybe someone on your team just dropped the ball without a valid reason. To start, you could do a little investigating by asking your team and the client what went wrong.

Ask your client which company won their business. If you don’t want to lose the client, you could meet your competitor’s price, if that was the issue and you are willing to go lower. Instead of feeling dejected or threatened by your competitor, take it as an opportunity to improve your services or business and learn from the strengths of others in your field.

If it was an internal issue, you can implement new tools or training, so your team can better manage the situation next time.

If you investigate why the mistakes are happening, and are willing to make improvements, you can go after new business with the confidence that your operation is capable of taking on more volume and meeting client expectations.

Stay informed

Instead of waiting for something to go wrong, keep your ears to the ground level of your business. Survey your employees and your customers regularly to find out what they think is working and what they’d love to see improve.

You might discover a new system that could increase internal productivity or boost morale. And your customers could show you exactly what your next hot product should be!

Most successful people earn success through the lessons of their failures. Remember, serendipity typically happens after a lot of trial and error ;).


© 2011 Ali International, LLC

“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at


Procurement Books said...

Being an optimist even in hard times is a very difficult task to undertake. But it is feasible. Negatives are just motivations or stepping stones to opportunities you didn't see before. Just like in procurement. When you don't win the contract the first time, do it again until you get it right.

Deb Bailey said...

That's very true! Learning from negative situations can help us to grow as we go along. Thanks for your comments!

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